A festive drag production is coming to Nanaimo’s OV Arts Centre.
On Dec. 17 the venue presents its Holigay Special. OV general manager Lauren Semple wrote the script with help from OV administrator Cheryl Lien and describes it as “a fun take on a holiday classic.” The show features nine mid-Island performers and Semple will host the event and narrate the story as her drag persona Andi Rogynous.
“I wanted to put on a drag showcase and bring together different genres and genders of drag performers from across the mid-Island area and really wanted to put together something really fun and festive,” she said. “But also with some of the production aspects that you would be used to seeing in a theatre show.”
Semple said that means making use of theatrical elements like lighting and sound in ways that might not be possible in other venues where drag is performed.
“We have the ability to work with a larger stage, bring in set pieces and just create more of an ongoing story, a thread that runs through the production, instead of the cabaret-style drag that you might see in a bar,” she explained.
Aside from Semple, the Holigay Special features celebrated Nanaimo drag queen Vikki Smudge and her drag sister PJ Smudge, as well as Olive ThisTea, Boy Gorgeous, Kash, Abigail ThunderThighs, Celeste and Lil’ Mx.
Semple said COVID-19-related restrictions have been hard on drag royalty. Like other entertainers they’ve had to pivot to online shows and as restrictions loosened they performed for smaller audiences.
Semple said drag shows have started up in the past year in Nanaimo and with the Holigay Special she’s offering performers “an opportunity to be part of a larger production and take their costumes and their numbers and their characters to a new level.”
“There was a lot of interest from the performers wanting to take it to a next level, do something different, try new things, get into new venues … and Cheryl and I were talking about it and what we could do to help bring that to fruition and it just seemed like a nice thing for the OV to do and take the lead on,” Semple said. “But really it’s the performers who are making this happen and bringing all of their wonderful creativity and energy.”
WHAT’S ON … The OV Holigay Special takes place at the OV Arts Centre, 25 Victoria Rd. on Dec. 17. Doors at 7:45 p.m., show at 8:30 p.m. 19-plus show. Tickets $40, available here.